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Information about biofuels and bioenergy in India.

  • India, with the world's second largest population and rapidly growing economy, is increasingly looking to biofuels to meet its energy needs. India is currently the world's 4th largest producer of ethanol and is expanding their biodiesel industry. India also has long running projects using biogas. As well as a variety of of initiatives to use bioenergy to supply electricity, heat and light to isolated rural populations. (source: An Assessment of the Biofuels Industry in India, UNCTAD)









  • RSPO Seeks to Certify Indonesian Crude Palm Oil, 23 November 2011 by Jakarta Globe: "The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil aims to certify 3 million tons of Indonesian crude palm oil as sustainable, up 50 percent from this year’s original target of 2 million."
    • "Green campaigners say palm plantations are some of the biggest threats to the sustainability of rainforests in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce 85 percent of the world’s supply of the commodity."
    • "A producer’s CPO can be certified if it can demonstrate that the production process does not cause undue harm to the environment or society."
    • "Worldwide demand for CPO is around 45 million tons, with the biggest markets in India, China and Europe."
    • "Indonesia’s Palm Oil Association (Gapki) in October withdrew its membership from RSPO, saying it would focus on helping to develop the government-backed sustainability scheme."[2]
  • The Extraordinary Collapse of Jatropha as a Global Biofuel, 2 August 2011 by Environmental Science & Technology: "In a massive planting program of unprecedented scale millions of marginal farmers and landless people were encouraged to plant Jatropha across India through attractive schemes....Similar measures were undertaken across other developing countries involving millions of small farmers in the hope that it would not only provide renewable energy but also enhance their incomes....By 2008, Jatropha had already been planted over an estimated 900000 ha globally of which an overwhelming 85% was in Asia, 13% in Africa and the rest in Latin America, and by 2015 Jatropha is expected to be planted on 12.8 million ha worldwide."
    • "But the results are anything but encouraging. In India the provisions of mandatory blending could not be enforced as seed production fell far short of the expectation and a recent study has reported discontinuance by 85% of the Jatropha farmers....In Tanzania the results are very unsatisfactory and a research study found the net present value of a five-year investment in Jatropha plantation was negative with a loss of US$ 65 per ha on lands with yields of 2 tons/ha of seeds...."
    • "...A case study of Jatropha plantations raised in 1993–1994 in the Indian province of Andhra Pradesh had reported actual yields that were far below expectations and the species was found to be prone to termite attacks, water logging, vulnerable to drought in the planting year and delayed yields."
    • "...As an immediate step an international body like the FAO may have to intervene to stop further extension of Jatropha in new areas without adequate research inputs. Greater investments in dissemination of scientific data will help in ensuring due diligence does not cause undue delays in decision making."[3]
  • Cargill Sets Sights on Worldwide Sustainable Palm Oil by 2020, 13 July 2011 by "Agribusiness giant Cargill plans to only offer palm oil -- an ingredient in Girl Scout cookies and numerous other foods -- that is certified sustainable in select countries by 2015 and worldwide by 2020."
    • "Cargill aims to have all of the palm oil it sells in Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) within the next four years."
    • "Cargill then plans for all palm oil sold in China, India and elsewhere to be RSPO-certified by 2020."
    • "The first goal, however, excludes palm kernel oil, which is produced from the same oil palm trees that palm oil comes from and is used in food products, soaps and other goods."
    • "The Rainforest Action Network, which has been dogging Cargill about its palm oil use, says that while the goals are a good start, the deadlines are too far away, RSPO certification is weak and palm kernel oil shouldn't be left out."
    • "Cargill says, though, that it's trying to be realistic with its goals, and is aiming for achievable targets."[4]
  • Sweet sorghum eyed as biofuel, 23 April 2011 by "A group of international scientists and crops experts based in India agreed on Saturday to help boost the production of sweet sorghum in a province of the Philippines as an alternative source of energy or biofuel."
    • "The Indian experts will team up with Pemdas Energy Corporation, based here, and the Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) for the planting and mass production of sweet sorghum."[5]
  • Impacts of Biofuel Targets on Land Use and Food Supply, 6 April 2011 by Journalist Resource: "The increased global production of biofuels such as ethanol has become a subject of controversy, as land formerly dedicated to the growing of food crops is repurposed to meet energy needs. Each year, more crops such as sugar, palm oil, corn and cassava are diverted for these purposes."
    • "A paper by the World Bank, 'The Impacts of Biofuel Targets on Land-Use Change and Food Supply,' uses land-allocation information from the biofuels production sectors to determine the levels of competition between biofuels and food industries for agricultural commodities. The authors model the potential effects of increased biofuels production to meet current national targets."
    • "The paper’s findings include:
      • Expanding global biofuels production to meet current national biofuels targets would generally reduce global GDP between 0.02% and 0.06%, with the national GDP impacts varying across countries.
      • Significant Expansion in biofuels production would necessitate substantial land re-allocation, resulting in as much a 5% decreases in forest and pasture lands.
      • The expansion of biofuels would likely cause a 1% reduction in global food supply.
      • The magnitude of the impact on food costs is not as large as perceived earlier — sugar, corn and oil seeds would experience 1% to 8% price increases by 2020 — but increases would be significant in developing countries such as India and those in Sub-Saharan Africa."[6]
  • Indian bio-fuel project to generate 25,000 jobs in Ghana, 8 March 2011 by "An Indian company has launched a clean energy project in Ghana that will help power over 100,000 homes and generate over 25,000 jobs in the west African country."
    • "Abellon CleanEnergy Limited intends to produce solid bio-fuels for export as well as set up energy plantations, says Pragnesh Mishra, the company's representative in Ghana."
    • "Officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Accra said the project was an initiative of the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a worldwide initiative to support the private sector in its efforts to fight poverty."
    • "But as Abellon prepares to take off, it looks like the company would have to contend with complaints by ActionAid Ghana that biofuel companies were grabbing lands from farmers all over the country."[7]
  • BP declares biofuels the only route to cleaner transport, 3 March 2011 by Business Green: "Biofuels is the 'only game in town' when it comes to decarbonising the transport sector, according to Olivier Mace, a senior BP executive, who also downplayed the potential for electric vehicles as a near-term replacement for conventional cars."
    • "Mace said he expected growing demand in India and China would by 2030 push the biofuel share of all road transport fuel well above the 12 per cent mark BP has previously predicted."
    • "But despite the industry's enthusiasm, Kenneth Richter, biofuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, warned that growing demand for energy crops would contribute to rising emissions."
    • ""Research has shown that the current rush to biofuel will lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, rather than a reduction," Richter told BusinessGreen. "This is caused by the need to convert massive amounts of natural habitat into biofuel plantations."[8]
  • Malaysian palm oil destroying forests, report warns, 2 February 2011 by the Guardian: "Study by Wetlands International claims level of palm oil-related deforestation in Malaysia is higher than previously thought."
    • "The report claims that between 2005 and 2010, almost 353,000 hectares of peat swamp forests were cleared – a third of Malaysia's total – largely for palm oil production."
    • "The clearing, draining and burning of peat swamp forests is responsible for about 10 per cent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions, according to Wetlands International."
    • "Palm oil firms in Malaysia and Indonesia are under increasing pressure by major Western retailers and consumer goods brands, many of which use palm oil in their products, to halt the expansion of plantations that lead to forest clearance."
    • "Some Malaysian palm oil producers have also joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, but strong demand from India and China for unsustainably sourced oil means others can avoid doing so without necessarily harming their market share."[10]
  • 110 Advanced Biofuels Projects Now in Development, 14 January 2011 by Renewable Energy "Today, the Biofuels Digest released version 1.7 of its free Advanced Biofuels Tracking Database, projecting advanced biofuels capacity for the 2011-2015 period."
    • "The new database, which is the quarterly update tracking new projects and changes in capacity announced since October, includes updates on 13 companies and their projects in Australia, Austria, Brazil, India, the Netherlands, Norway and the US."
    • "The database now tracks 110 advanced biofuels projects, and projects that advanced biofuels capacity will reach 718 million gallons in 2011, 1.522 billion by 2012, 2.685 billion by 2013, and 3.579 billion gallons by 2014."
    • "Renewable drop-in fuels (renewable gasoline, and renewable diesel, and biobutanol) have climbed to 59 percent of planned advanced biofuels capacity by 2015."[11]


  • Biofuel crops fuel worry, 21 November 2010 by Jayashree Nandi: "It might be about time the state asks how green are biofuels. Karnataka is going to be one of the few states to heavily invest in biofuels. It has already covered an area of 13.5 lakh ha and the newly-formed Biofuels Board is going to commence operations next week."
    • "Farmers are being encouraged to plant honge and jatropha, along with regular food crops in a multi-cropping pattern. In the long run, this could mean gradual conversion of farmland into biofuel production units."
    • "While according to officials most of the planting has happened on wasteland, there's no agency to certify what's a wasteland. Some of these plantations are also being done on forestland."
    • "From being a recommendatory body, now the taskforce will be converted to a facilitating body that will route funds for projects from state and central government. Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand have already constituted biofuel boards."[13]
  • Black Carbon a Significant Factor in Melting of Himalayan Glaciers, 4 February 2010 by Science Daily: "[A]irborne black carbon aerosols, or soot, from India is a major contributor to the decline in snow and ice cover on the glaciers."
    • "'Our simulations showed greenhouse gases alone are not nearly enough to be responsible for the snow melt,' says Menon, a physicist and staff scientist in Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division. 'Most of the change in snow and ice cover -- about 90 percent -- is from aerosols. Black carbon alone contributes at least 30 percent of this sum.'"
    • "'Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for 100 years, but black carbon doesn't stay in the atmosphere for more than a few weeks, so the effects of controlling black carbon are much faster,' Menon says. 'If you control black carbon now, you're going to see an immediate effect.'"[16]


  • Small-scale biofuels production holds more promise, says USAID, 21 June 2009 by BusinessMirror: "Decentralized biofuel production, or small-scale factories built on degraded or underused lands, has the potential to provide energy to half a billion people living in poverty in rural Asia."
    • " The report, Biofuels in Asia: An Analysis of Sustainability Options…focused on China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It analyzed key trends and concerns and highlighted sustainability options for biofuel production."
    • "Compared with large-scale biofuels production, small-scale biofuels production for local use may deliver greater social benefits, including improvement of rural livelihoods, support of local industries, and a lower tendency toward exploitation of workers and co-opting of land from indigenous peoples."


  • Power plants - The slow ripening of India’s biofuel industry, 18 September 2008 by The Economist: The article introduces a village growing jatropha "under the watchful eye of D1-BP Fuel Crops, a joint venture between D1 Oils, a British biofuels firm, and BP, an energy giant."
    • It notes that "the world is being asked to digest big claims for this poisonous plant. It will help meet the world’s demand for fuel, without crowding out the world’s supply of food. It will regenerate dry and denuded soils, and create jobs for impoverished farmers. India accounts for about two-thirds of the world’s jatropha plantations."
    • To meet the new national biofuel usage goal of 20% of diesel use in 2017 to come from biofuels, "will mean setting aside 14 [million] hectares of land" although "jatropha now covers less than 500,000 hectares."
    • "But sceptics say these crops take too long to bear fruit and their yield is unreliable."[17]
  • India sets new biofuel target, risks food price row, 11 September 2008 by Reuters UK: "India aims to raise blending of biofuels with petrol and diesel to 20 percent within a decade, threatening a revival of the food-versus-fuel debate."
    • "'An indicative target of 20 percent blending by 2017 may be kept, both for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol,' the government said in a statement on Thursday."
    • "Higher use of biofuels will intensify the debate on the use of farmland for fuel in India, and encourage farmers to reduce grain cultivation for food, said T.K. Bhaumik, an economist with Assocham, a leading business chamber."
    • "While the use of ethanol has been introduced successfully in India, the use of bio-diesel has not taken off and many Indian companies have shelved plans to invest in related projects."[18]
  • India to unveil bio-fuel policy in March , 1 February 2008 by Sify business, reports that India's government plans to issue a policy on biofuels in early March. The Biodiesel Industry Association says that "[F]armers are reluctant to undertake plantation of jatropha on a large scale to meet the feedstock requirement of bio-diesel plants in the absence of policy guidelines from the central government," and that facilities "are unable to run at their rated capacities due to feedstock shortage." Sources say that India has thirty million hectares of unused land that is suitable for jatropha and other crops for biofuels.
  • India to establish a center for Energy Biosciences , 1 February 2008 India's Department of Biotechnology has set aside the equivalent of $6.1 million U.S. and hopes to raise another $4 million to establish a first Center of Energy Biosciences at the University Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai.


  • India plans new biofuel mission, 11 April 2007 from India is planning a new biofuel plan with a focus on jatropha and karanj. The first phase would cover 400,000 ha and the second 11.2 million ha of land. There are challenges to implementation, including the reluctance of farmers to invest in a crop like jatropha that doesn't yield seeds until the third year.
  • Grid-connected Biomass Gasifier Project inaugurated in rural India - 24 January 2007. Koratgere village residents, in Karnataka state, have signed a power purchase agreement with the state utility, BESCOM, to supply electricity generated by four biomass gasifier units totaling 500 kW. The fuel will be supplied by dry plant matter, from locally-cultivated plants and shrubs that are grown on wastelands. The project was partially funded by GEF.


  • India's president has said that the country plans to produce 60 million tonnes of biodiesel per year by 2030 or roughly 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day. (source: biopact)
  • India's food needs preclude using food crops for fuel. So the main candidate for bio-fuels are non-edible tree-oils, like jatropha and karanj, which can grow on marginal land.


For information on bioenergy in the States and Union Territories of India, click here: India - States and Union Territories.

International cooperation activities


Governmental organizations

Nongovernmental organizations

  • The Andhyodaya - An Indian NGO that does ferro cement technology, rain water harvesting and biogas plants.


Industry associations

  • Indian Biogas Association - Association for the Indian biogas industry.
    • "The 'Indian Biogas Association' aspires to be a unique blend of; nationwide operators, manufacturers and planners of biogas plants, and representatives from science and research. The association was founded in 2010 and is now ready to start mushrooming. The sole motto of the association is 'propagating Biogas in a sustainable way'."[21]


See books, reports, scientific papers, position papers and websites for additional useful resources.


  • Agropedia - "a comprehensive, seamlessly integrated model of digital content organization in the agricultural domain." Focused on India. Lead organization is ICRISAT.
  • Indic View - Blog on Alternate Energy and the Indian Infrastructure and Energy Scene.

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